What Is The Tier 2 Immigration Skills Charge 2017?


The Law Of…explaining the new tier 2 Immigration Skills Charge

New changes to the points-based immigration system for non-EEA individuals are expected to be introduced by the Government from April 2017.

Immigration Skills Charge for Tier 2 workers

Luke Piper, Solicitor in Immigration, explains what these changes mean for employers in the UK.

Immigration Skills Charge – Tier 2 Workers

One of the big changes includes the introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge for UK employers who are recruiting skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Under the new rules, if an employer wants to hire a non-EEA worker under Tier 2 of the points-based system, they will have to pay an annual fee of £1,000 per worker to the Government.

This rule differs slightly for small or charitable sponsors. If they have a turnover of £10.2million or less and they have up to 50 employees, they will have to pay £364 per worker, per year.

Why Is This Charge Being Introduced?

According to the Government, this charge is being put in place to encourage employers to recruit more talent from the UK labour market rather than relying on workers from abroad.

The annual fee is also going to help relieve some of the financial pressure that the immigration system has on UK taxpayers.

Who Will This Skills Charge Apply To?

The charge will apply to both Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) categories, where employers are seeking to sponsor non-EEA nationals:

  • who are outside of the UK and applying for a visa
  • who are inside the UK and wish to switch to the Tier 2 category from another visa

But, the Skills Charge won't apply if an employer is sponsoring:

  1. a non-EEA worker who was sponsored in Tier 2 before 6th April 2017, and is applying to extend their visa with the same or a different sponsor
  2. a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
  3. a Tier 2 migrant who wants to do a specific PhD level role
  4. a Tier 4 student who wants to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa
  5. Tier 2 family members/dependents

More information about who is exempt from this charge and how much employers can expect to pay can be found in the draft statutory instrument published by the Government.

Luke comments:

"Even though the exemptions to students entering the job market following their studies is a welcomed decision, this Skills Charge might actually create a new set of challenges for employers."

"As the charge will be applicable to certain roles on the Shortage Occupation List, this creates a further barrier to professions where there is a considerable skills shortage in the UK market."

"Even though PhD positions are exempt from the Skills Charge, there will still be roles in the Shortage Occupation List that will be subject to the charge."

"The total cost of sponsoring migrants under Tier 2 could add a further £1,820 to Home Office fees for small business and £5,000 for large ones. With the potential advent of a universal fee increase during April 2017, employers could see themselves priced out of sponsoring much needed migrants."

"We recommend that employers looking to recruit under Tier 2 and apply for Certificates of Sponsorship should do this before 6 April 2017 to avoid the skills charge and other potential fee increases."

"If you're worried about this fee or need some advice about recruiting under Tier 2, get in touch with me or another member of the Immigration team as soon as you can."

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